Wednesday, December 05, 2007

DAY 61: Strathalbyn to Meningie

Weds 5th December 2007
98 km @17.1 km/hr
sunny, 24 deg C
Wind mostly SSE - tailwind turning to headwind
Distance to date 4076 km (2547 miles)

Lie-in again as I intended to wait for the book shop opening at 9, and after brekkie had chat with French Canadian young couple riding here and there. Lovely sunny morning with fluffy white clouds and Little Correlas making a BIG noise with their demented screeching (forgiven because birds can do no wrong). On arrival at bookshop noticed that they don’t open till 10 - doh! Time waits for no man so off I set for Wellington, some 50km away due east.
Beautiful ride, slight SSE tailwind and bowling along at 20 km/hr with little effort feeling very positive and almost in flow state. Wine country - wealthy area - nice houses, but curiously sterile to my way of thinking - maybe too nice? .

Reached Wellington within 3 hours but having expected a little coastal village there was no sign of the sea and nothing much more than a hotel / CP / roadhouse along with a billion flies, most of which were exploring my available orifices. Still feeling very positive though - probably still on a high following the fantastic 5 days I spent in Adelaide, but also the first day for weeks that my nether bits were not playing up - perhaps the break off the bike has encouraged healing at last. I lunched at the roadhouse on a very nice Cornish pastie and FUIC, managing to decline a huge pastie on offer despite the enthusiasm of the serving lady - it’s as big as a whale she said, and I didn’t disagree with her, but it was too much for even me at 12 noon.
Wellington is on the west bank of the Murray River (isn’t Murray-Darling one of the world’s largest rivers? (2 pics below) So had to get the steel-roped ferry for the 3 minute journey across to the east side (see pic). The landscape here was much the same as to the west - sheep pasture / grain fields i.e. Open. However the wind was not so strong so continued to make good progress even though I turned 90 degrees onto Highway 1 again and headed due south. This road leads into the Coorong coastal NP where the birdies are brilliant apparently. Shame I couldn’t buy a birdie book (I had the chance in Adelaide but didn’t take ‘cos I thought it would be too heavy - now I’ve realised the opportunity it’s too late).
I’ve been testing out the new Sony Walkman MP3 player which I bought mainly for the speech recording - to rec
The road had been pretty flat for 70km but became a bit more hilly towards the end, and also the wind picked up and was straight in the face, so speed dropped quite a bit. You just never know how conditions are going to change over the day - it’s often a surprise. Still made Meningie before 4 and before I hit the town centre I had clocked the library, found a nice fast (and free) computer and within the hour had uploaded everything - hurray!
The town is quite nice and tidy, and the CP is excellent - never seen such clean toilets, and I told the management so. It’s set right on the beach inside a huge lagoon, and already the birds were starting to appear - my first cattle egret this trip, along with the ubiquitous pelicans again.
I pitched 20m from the camp kitchen, got the plonk in the fridge, and happily made half a dozen new friends since there were a few tenters cooking in here - it’s not often such a social occasion unfortunately. One couple were around my age and from north of Birmingham, and left Perth about the same date as me, so we are going about the same pace - I can expect to see them again which is good. I also talked to couples from Switzerland and France. I did myself a sausage and veg barbie and drank a little (cool!) Chardonnay.
All in all a cracking day, and the prospect of some exciting riding ahead.

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